Page 1, 2nd October 1964

2nd October 1964
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Page 1, 2nd October 1964 — DEICIDE CHARGE MUST GO

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Locations: Jerusalem


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—Mgr. Heenan

VATICAN CITY rrHE main difference between

the original statement on the Jews and one now being attacked by many Council Fathers is that the new version omits two crucial statements.

The first statement, repeating the Council of Trent catechism. declared that it was the sins of all mankind which caused Christ's death. The second exonerated the Jewish people, as such, of Christ's time from the guilt for His crucifixion.

Both the old and the new texts, however, contain a statement exonerating the Jews of today from blame.

The real explanation of the changes seems to be that the rewritten text, approved by the Christian Unity Secretariat in March, was rewritten again in the Co-ordinating Commission.


Here a section treating of the Moslems was added at the direct request of the Pope, who had been deeply moved by his meeting in Jerusalem with Patriarch Athenagoras, and who judged it wiser to extend the text on the Jews to include Christian relations with non-Christians.

The new text, though incomplete and uneven as it stands, answers most of the complaints made by Jews and should make impossible the use of pulpit, classroom or general Catholic formation to alienate Catholics from the Jewish people.

Here is the text of Archbishop Heenan's address to the Council on this issue: "It is not surprising that the Jews have received the new version of the declaration De Judaeis without marked pleasure. The earlier pronouncement about the Jews in the Schema on ecumenism

was made public during the second session of the Council and in consequence its terms are well known to the Jews.

"It is natural that they should now be asking %shy certain changes have been made. It is impossible not to notice a subtle difference in the tone and spirit of the new version. In its present form the declaration seems less forthcoming and less friendly.

°We of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian unity prepared our text keeping in mind the hundreds of comments made between sessions by the Fathers of the Council. The wording of the document now in your hands is not precisely ours.

"I have no idea which theologians were charged with drawing up the final draft of this declaration. Let me say quite plainly that I have no suspicion of any kind that they set out to make our words less warm or our approach less generous. It is quite possible that these theologians have had little experience in ecumenical affairs, "Such delicate material has to be handled with great care and even subtlety. This is especially true ahen dealing with the Jews whom frequent persecution has made particularly sensitive.

"The sensitivity may well he the reason why the Jewish neospapers have complained so bitterly about the quotation from the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans: 'I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery ... Blindness has fallen upon a part of Israel but only unitl the tale of the Gentile nations is complete, then the whole of Israel will find salvation ...'

Brotherly love

'thci oords, to the end ol the world when, it is hoped, all men, including the ho s, skill return to "The Apostle of the Gentiles is here using what we call eschatological language.] lc is referring, in


the unity of the true people of God. "I have no doubt in my own mind that this quotation was deliberately chosen as a proof of our brotherly love and desire for union o ith all the other sons of God. It is my vies' that the lens are mistaken in regarding this text as a summons forthwith to give up their religion.

"I must add. however, that the question of conversion, whether of individuals or of whole communities, really has no place in the context of ecumenism. The object of the ecumenical movement is to lead people of different religions to examine each other's beliefs.

"Neither party in the dialogue has any ambition to score victories. Its object is for all to grow in mutual understanding and esteem. That is why in discussing Christian unity the Schema made no mention of conversion either of the orthodox in the cast or of non-Catholics in the west.

"Our hope, nevertheless, of the return of all the brethren of Christ to the one fold remains strong. Our separated brethren pray no less earnestly than ourselves that led by the Holy Spirit all mill eventually be united in one Church.

Badly taken

"However good the intentions of those who inserted this quotation from St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, the fact is that it has been taken badly by the Jews. For me this is a sufficient reason for remov. ing the quotation from the declareti on. . "Notice that in the same declaration when talking about other nonChristian believers—such as the Moslems no word is said about converting them. Here are the exact words of the text: 'Although theia opinions and doctrines differ from ours in many ways, nevertheless in many things they show a ray of

that truth which enlightens every man coming into this world'.

"But surely if these other nonChristian religions possess a ray of truth, the Jewish religion has much more since it is in a way the root of our 01813 faith. Pope Pius XI once said: 'We are all Semites'.

"I want to end oith a word about the famous question of deicide. In the earlier version of our document the Jeoish people was absolved from the crime of deicide. We must never forget that the text was published to the whole world.

"If, therefore, this absolution is deleted the interpretation will be made that the Fathers of the Council, having had a year to think it over. now solemnly judge that the whole Jewish people—at least those alive at the time of Christ's death— arc, in fact. guilty of the crime of deicide.

-The Jews during this century have suffered grave and, indeed, inhuman injuries. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord who from the Cross forgave His executioners, I humbly plead that declaration of ours shall openly proclaim that the Jem ish people as such is not guilty of the death of our Lurd.

"It would certainly be unjust in our own day if all the Christians of Europe were judged guilty of the

death of millions of Jews in Ciermany and Polaind. I maintain that it is no less unjust to condemn the whole Jewish people for the death of Christ."

Arabs object

Syria has officially criticised the move to absolve the Jews from the guilt of the crucifixion, according to Damascus Radio. Arab newspapers have been critical since the matter was first raised but this is the first official statement on the subject by an Arab government.

Salah Biter, the Syrian Premier, on Tuesday summoned heads of the Catholic communities in the country and told them that the Syrian 'and other Arab isountries could not accept the view that the matter was purely a religious one.

He said that Zionists were trying to exploit the issue to serve their own interests at a time when the Arabs were trying to focus international attention On the Palestine question.

Saleh Bitar asked the Vatican's ambassador to Syria to convey the. government's view to Pope Paul.

No politics

Other points made by the Council Fathers in the debate on the Jews were as follows:

I. There should be no fear of making this declaration because the aim of the Council is exclusively spiritual. The text is generally acceptable in its treatment of the common patrimony of Christiaos and Jews. Nevertheless. more stress should be placed on the statement that the Jewish people is not to be regarded as reprobate. St. Peter and St. Paul never regarded the Jews as a rejected people, so neither can we.

2. The treatment of the Moslems is to be commended. But one regrets that the beautiful theology of Chapter 2 of the Epistle to the Ephesians is practically ignored. This is the classical passage in Sacred Scripture treating of the old and new relationships between, peoples of the Old and New Testaments.

The treatment of non-Christians is too negative. however. We should point out in positive fashion. how. notwithstanding their errors, they still reflect a ray of the light of God. At the end it is not proper for the Council to command the faithful to practice love of the Jews. Christ has already commanded it and the Council can only reiterate this Divine precept.

3. The text should suggest Biblical discussions with Jews and with greater reverence should express the hopes of the Church foi eschatological re-integration of the Jewish people.

4. References to the Jewish origin of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles should he made more clear and specific and not just set down as passing references. We should explain why we condemn hatred of the Jews, i.e.' not only because they are men but 'because they are specially related to us.

We should declare that past persecution of Jews came from false philosophies and wrong interpretation of Christian doctrine, On the relations of Christians and Jews, the text is too generic and ambiguous. To deny that the Jewish people is reprobate, why not quote St. Paul when he states that "God did not reject the people whom he had chosen". We should make it clear that we are not speaking of the Jews of today but of Jews as such and everywhere.

• 5. We must proclaim to the world in this sacred assembly that there is no logical or historical reason which can justify the iniquity. the hatred or the persecution of our Jewish brethren. It may well be true that not many voices of this kind were lifted in the past but at least they can be lifted now.

6. The importance of this declaration has been stressed by many and it should be accepted with our whole hearts. There should be explicit mention of the special bonds uniting us to the Jews as was done in the previous text. St. Thomas Aquinas has eeminded us that no Jew in the time of Christ was formally guilty of deicide because they did not know the Divinity of Christ.

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